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Sunday / June 16.
HomeminewsACT to Open School of Optometry

ACT to Open School of Optometry

The University of Canberra will open a School of Optometry in 2018 and has advertised for an academic to join its university staff. Local optometrist Mark Feltham said the new school will accommodate a skills shortage in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

He said Canberra’s shortage was explained by the need to draw students trained in other cities to the ACT, and it was noticeable when replacing people retiring from the industry.

Optometry Australia has voiced concerns in the past about an oversupply of optometry students. A research paper published by Optometry Australia in 20151 modelled results of the relationship between the projected Australian optometric workforce and projected demand for optometric services for the period 2011 to 2036. It estimated a surplus of over 1,200 equivalent full-time optometrists (EFTO) in 2036 for the highest service demand scenario of 13.8 million Medicare services, where 21 hours of a 38-hour week per EFTO were allowed for the provision of optometric services under Medicare. Substantial surpluses were predicted in all states and territories except Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory where predicted supply was within six EFTO of predicted demand.

Optometry New South Wales/ACT CEO Andrew McKinnon said Optometry Australia maintained its view that there is an oversupply of students acknowledging, however, that there are and most likely always will be shortages in some regional and remote areas of Australia. He said, “Optometry NSW ACT had held discussions with the University of Canberra in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding with the planned school.”

Optometry NSW ACT had held discussions with the University of Canberra in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding with the planned school

However, “The University has been planning the school over the past four years and strongly believes it will attract students from a large catchment area that extends from the Victorian border out to the east coast up to Nowra and then inland. The University is confident its strategy for student recruitment and its approach to teaching means there will be a strong chance that graduating students will remain in the area to practice optometry.”

He said Optometry NSW/ACT would work closely with the University to ensure the school is “as good as it can be, students have the best possible experience and that together we achieve the best outcomes for eye health”.

Optometry Australia works on advisory boards with University Schools of Optometry to provide information about the profession’s needs, facilitate clinical placements, and support students as they enter the workforce.

1. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cxo.12289/full